News and Press Releases

Navajo man pleads guilty to federal rape charge

February 3, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE -- United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, earlier today, Sterling Clyde, 30, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, pled guilty to an indictment charging him with aggravated sexual abuse before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi. Clyde has been in federal custody since his arrest on June 23, 2010 and remains in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Based on his guilty plea, Clyde faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment to be followed by a minimum five-year term of supervised release. Clyde also will be required to register as a sex offender.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, on the evening of June 4, 2010, an adult Navajo female, who later was victimized by Clyde (Victim), and her adult Navajo male friend went to a party hosted by Clyde at a residence in Shiprock, New Mexico. By 3:00 a.m. on June 5, 2010, the party was over and the Victim, her male friend and Clyde were the only ones remaining at the residence. When the male friend went outside to use the outhouse, Clyde locked the door and told the male friend to go home. After the male friend departed the area on foot, Clyde told the Victim that he intended to rape her. Although the Victim attempted to escape out a window, Clyde pulled the Victim back into the residence, forced her onto a bed, took her clothes off, and raped her.

The complaint alleges that, at some point, the Victim’s male friend returned to the residence because he felt “something wasn’t right.” When Clyde heard the male friend knocking on the door, he got off the Victim and went to the door. The Victim seized this opportunity to put on her clothes and run out of the residence. The Victim and her male friend left the residence and reported the crime to the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety (NNDPS). According to the complaint, when NNDPS officers responded to the residence, Clyde refused to open the door and instead escaped from the residence through a back window and fled on foot. NNDPS officers maintained security of the residence while special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) obtained a search warrant to seize evidence from within the residence. Thereafter, the FBI obtained a warrant for arrest of Clyde.

Clyde was arrested on June 23, 2010 and was detained. A federal grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging Clyde with aggravated sexual abuse on July 14, 2010. Clyde entered a guilty plea to the indictment this morning under a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. In the plea agreement, Clyde admitted to forcibly raping the Victim against her will. He further admitted that the Victim attempted to leave but he prevented her from doing so.

This case was investigated by the NNDPS – Shiprock Division with the assistance of the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer M. Rozzoni.

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